February 26, 2015

Warm Wagging Tails – Pawsitive Winter Activities for You and Your Dog

OK, so you’re feeling fed up. You want
to be the best pet owner for your dog and you know that means providing plenty
of exercise and stimulating activities each day. But let’s face it – that’s not
the easiest thing to do during a winter like this one. The walking paths and
trails are buried in snow, you’re up to your knees trying to walk through the
park, and the sidewalks are becoming more and more difficult to distinguish
from the snow banks. The roads are covered in salt and, honestly, your dog
seems just as cold and miserable as you when you assume your winter warrior
persona and head out to endure a barely bearable February stroll.
Good news: You don’t have to do this!
There are plenty of alternatives to simply walking the dog each day through the
winter. If you’re looking to try something – anything – else, here are some
ideas to help keep your pet happy and healthy until the sunshine and green
grass return.

Indoor
games
Many dogs can easily learn to play
hide-and-seek with you. Games like this provide some indoor exercise, as well
as mental stimulation and fun, for your pet and your family!
 New
toys
Stock up on toys that are interactive
and stimulating for your pup. Tug toys, for example, will provide fun,
exercise, and interaction. Stuffable toys that make your dog think and work to
get to a treat are also great, but make sure you’re not overcompensating fewer
walks with far more treats!

Nose
work
Challenge Rover’s nose by hiding treats
throughout the house for him to search for; create an obstacle course to be
sniffed through to find his dinner; or create interactive challenges for your
dog by hiding a treat under one of several covers, and praising him when he finds
it.

Outings.
Next time you’re heading out to your local pet store or animal shelter, take
your dog with you. He’ll be excited to get out of the house, see and sniff new
people and animals, and show off some of his good manners and obedience
training in hopes of coming home with a new toy or treat.
 Join
a class
Take your dog’s training to the next
level by joining a new obedience or agility class. This will provide a regular
outing for both you and your dog to look forward to each week, and give you new
interactive tricks to practice together at home.
 Plan
a FUN outdoor activity
Find a scenic,
pet-friendly location for snow shoeing, cross-country skiing, or winter hiking.
Invite some friends along to make for an enjoyable group activity.

Spice
up “the walk”
Alternate between walking and
jogging with your dog every 10 minutes or so. This will help keep things
interesting for your pup, and it will help keep both of you feeling warmer
while you’re out. Pausing the walk for snowball fetch is another exciting
activity for your dog, and you don’t have to worry about favourite dog toys
getting lost in the snow!  

Hopefully these suggestions will inspire
some renewed enthusiasm for providing exercise and excitement for our dogs
during the winter. Remember, the benefits of fresh air and exercise are many –
for both you and your pet – so avoid giving up on dog walks altogether.
Instead, try incorporating new activities so that you are not relying solely on
bitter cold dog walks for providing both exercise and fun for your pet. New,
alternative activities can be an excellent way to increase your pet’s training,
socialization, and bond with you. Before you know it, you’ll be back to playing
fetch in the park under the warm summer sun. 
Andrea
Tatarski
OHS Coordinator: Humane Education

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